Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Love, Speed and Loss: Remembering Kim Newcombe

Kim Newcombe finished second in the 1973 500cc motorcycle GP racing world championship, on a Konig motorcycle which he worked on himself...

Produced by Visionary Film and TV Ltd. and directed by Justin Pemberton, Love, Speed and Loss is a documentary about motorcycle racer Kim Newcombe, who raced a König motorcycle in the 500cc GPs in the 1970s. Newcombe was killed while racing in 1973, the same year which also claimed the lives of two other motorcycle racers – Renzo Pasolini and Jarno Saarinen. Newcombe finished second (posthumously) in that year's 500cc motorcycle GP racing world championship, which was won by Phil Read.

Born in 1944 in the town of Nelson, in New Zealand, Kim Newcombe moved to Australia in 1963 and subsequently to Europe in 1968. Along with fellow racer, John Dodds, he developed a racing motorcycle using a four-cylinder, two-stroke, liquid-cooled boat engine designed by Dieter König. The engine was mated to a Manx Norton’s gearbox and clutch.

Coming back to the film, Love, Speed and Loss is an in-depth look at Newcombe’s life and features racing footage, interviews with Newcombe’s wife Janeen and much more. It won the best documentary award at the 2007 Qantas TV Awards, and Air NZ Screen Awards for best documentary, directing, and editing.

This is a 75-minute documentary and you can watch the first part right here (see below). The other three parts can also be seen online, at the NZ On Screen website here

This is the first part of the four-part documentary, Love, Speed and Loss. The other three parts are also available online here

Pics: Ozebook, more details: Motorcycling Australia

Suzuki GB invites online reservations for 25th Anniversary GSX-R750

The limited edition 25th Anniversary Suzuki GSX-R750...

Following the unveiling of the limited edition 25th Anniversary Suzuki GSX-R750 in November last year, Suzuki GB has now announced a new online-only reservation process for the bike, which starts on the 23rd of this month.

With just 25 of these machines available, reservations will be handled exclusively through the GSX-R 25th Anniversary website from mid-day on the 23rd January and operated on a first come, first served basis. The reservation system will be open until all 25 machines have been reserved.

The 25th Anniversary GSX-R750 features a unique retro colour scheme (a tribute to the 1996 GSX-R750), a Yoshimura silencer and commemorative individually numbered top yoke plaque and certificate. The bike is priced at £10,099.

Monday, January 18, 2010

2010 BMW R1200GS riding impression

Is the 2010 BMW R1200GS necessarily a better bike than its immediate predecessor...?

With the HP2’s DOHC cylinder head transplanted on to the R1200GS, BMW have further improved their definitive ‘adventure touring’ motorcycle and made sure it doesn’t fall behind its competitors from KTM, Moto Guzzi and others. Motociclismo recently tested the 2010 BMW R1200GS, and here are some excerpts from what they have to say about the bike:

The first impression you get when you start the bike and hear the engine idling is that someone has forgotten to fit the silencer properly. Nothing’s broken however, and the reason for that noise seems to be the bike’s new electronically controlled exhaust valve, which regulates the output and pressure of the exhaust gas depending on engine load.

A quick look at the data sheet tells us that the new R1200GS, with its twin-cam cylinder heads from the HP2, packs 110 horsepower at 7,750rpm and 120Nm of torque at 6,000rpm. With the new exhaust valve and other electronics, the 1,170cc opposed-twin meets all emissions and noise regulations and yet retains its intense, deep boxer-engine roar.

Once you get on the bike, you immediately feel at home – the seat, handlebars and chassis all feel familiar. What has changed is the engine, which now feels even more responsive, making the bike accelerate harder than before at lower revs. The new engine feels particularly strong between 5,000-6,000rpm, allowing you to accelerate out of corners harder even with a passenger on board. Also, despite feeling more powerful than the older R1200GS engine, the new one does not consume more fuel and fuel efficiency remains unchanged, at 5.8 litres per 100km.

To sum up, despite the small advantages that the new bike offers, owners of the older R1200GS needn’t necessarily feel the need to upgrade. And that says a lot about how good the R1200GS already was, before BMW decided to ‘improve’ the bike…

2010 BMW R1200GS: Technical Specs

Engine: 1,170cc, DOHC, 8-valve, air-cooled, fuel-injected Boxer-twin
Power: 110bhp@7,750rpm
Torque: 120Nm@6,000rpm
Gearbox: Six-speed, with dry, single plate clutch
Chassis: Steel tube trellis
Suspensions: 41mm Telelever (front), single side Paralever (rear), both ends electronically adjustable
Brakes: Twin 305mm discs with four-piston callipers (front), single 265mm disc with twin-piston calliper (rear)
Wheels: 19-inch (front), 17-inch (rear)
Tyres: 110/80-19 (front), 150/70-17 (rear)
Top speed: 215km/h
Average fuel consumption: 5.8 liters per 100km
Wet weight: 246kg

For the full, original article, please visit the Motociclismo website here

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Motus MST-01 sports tourer bets big on GDI tech

Motus MST 01Motus MST 01
Motus MST-01 vs Honda VFR1200F? Bring it on then...

The V4-engined Motus MST-01 sports tourer seems to be getting closer to production reality. Motus are proud of the fast that the bike has been engineered in Michigan and designed and built in Birmingham, Alabama, in the US. The bike’s 1,650cc liquid-cooled V4 has been designed by Katech, whose claim to fame seems to be that they’re the ones who developed the Chevy Corvette Z06’s 500-horsepower engine.

Among other things, the Motus MST-01’s engine features gasoline direct injection (GDI) technology and high-speed digital fuel-injection, which is supposed to offer significant power and performance benefits over regular engines. (You can read more about this technology here)

What we find interesting is that Motus are pitching their sports tourer against nothing less than the Honda VFR1200F. The fledgling American company believes its 140bhp V4 – with only two valves per cylinder but with added benefits of GDI tech – will be able to take on the big VFR and, of course, other high-tech sports tourers from various Japanese and European companies.

With its triangulated tubular steel chassis, chain drive, high-spec suspension, integrated luggage carrying capacity and that all-new V4 engine, the MST-01 should be an interesting motorcycle. We just hope it will actually deliver what it promises when it’s launched later this year…

Bimota DB8: More performance, less money

Bimota DB8 - 170bhp Ducati L-twin engine and 23,000 euro price tag. Sounds good to us...

Bimota have released pics and tech specs of their new ‘Biposto’ superbike – the DB8 – which is fitted with the Ducati 1198’s L-twin engine, can seat two people and at 23,000 euros, is 3,000 euros cheaper than the Ducati 1098-engined DB7.

The DB8 is pegged as a more affordable Bimota, though with 170bhp and 131Nm of torque from its Ducati engine, and with a dry weight of 171 kilos, it should certainly not be lacking in the performance department. Of course, it uses materials that are a bit less exotic compared to the DB7’s spec – the carbonfibre bodywork has been replaced with plastic, the exhaust is made of steel rather than titanium and the chassis subframe is now made of steel rather than carbonfibre.

In terms of styling, the Bimota DB8 still looks nowhere near as good as the Ducati 1198, but for fans of the Rimini-based marque, the DB8 could be a good way to enter the hallowed world of Bimota ownership, at a relatively reasonable price…

Bimota DB8 – Tech Specs:

Engine: 1198cc, liquid-cooled, DOHC, L-twin
Power: 170bhp@9,750rpm
Torque: 131Nm@8,000rpm
Chassis: Steel tube trellis and aluminium alloy plate hybrid
Suspension: Marzocchi USD forks, Extreme Tech monoshock (both ends fully adjustable)
Brakes: Brembo, twin 320mm discs with four-pistons radial-mount callipers (front), single 220mm disc with twin-piston calliper (rear)
Wet weight: 178kg

Friday, January 15, 2010

Ducati streetbikes to benefit from MotoGP development work

MotoGP engines must now be at least three times as durable as they were in 2009, which has to be a good thing for street-legal sportsbikes, which could stand to benefit from MotoGP R&D...

Ducati recently unveiled the Desmosedici GP10, their 2010 MotoGP racebike, which features some big changes over last year’s machine. That’s primarily because of the new rules that have come into effect this year, which restrict each rider to just six new engines for the entire season in order to try and reduce costs.

Earlier, factory MotoGP teams have used a brand-new engine for every single race, while now each engine will have to last for at least three races (given that there will be 18 MotoGP races this year), which means engine internals will have to be far more durable than before.

‘To go 1,600km with an engine that goes over 19,000rpm isn't a simple assignment. All of the main parts were redesigned – pistons, rods, crankshaft, the basics. It's an engine with which our main objective was to minimize the loss of power and yet increase durability,’ says Ducati Motor general manager Claudio Domenicali.

Now, while some say this isn’t the right direction for MotoGP, the top-flight prototype racing class where power and performance should be the only criteria, Domenicali believes otherwise. If anything, he says, this will help developments at the MotoGP level to filter down to Ducati’s street-legal superbikes. ‘This change will be very useful and interesting. Normally in racing, durability isn't the principal objective. But now this has enabled us to perform a series of experiments that will also be interesting for the new production engines that we're developing, because at this point they become almost comparable,’ says Domenicali. ‘For a production engine, 2,000km of track use is a severe challenge, so we think that race engine durability will now be comparable with production engines,’ he adds.

The other big thing with the GP10 is Ducati’s focus on increasing rideability rather than outright power. For this, Ducati are using the so called ‘big bang’ firing order rather than its earlier ‘screamer’ engines. ‘We have a motor that, since the switch to 800s, utilized a screamer setup. This permitted us to have maximum power, which was very important and was probably fundamental with the results that we've had in 2007, 2008 and 2009. But at a certain point, we began to wonder whether it could be worthwhile to re-test a way that we'd already followed in the past,’ says Domenicali.

‘The last 990cc motors that we made in 2005 and 2006 used a big-bang firing order, and this gave us rideability. We re-tested that way, first trying it on the dyno and then with Vittoriano Guareschi in his previous role as test rider, and then with Nicky and Casey. We think we have a bike for 2010 with better traction, and that therefore makes it easier for us to find a good setup,’ says Domenicali.

In addition to the new engine, the GP10 also features a tweaked chassis, carbonfibre swingarm and revised aerodynamics. With these changes, Ducati hope that in addition to Casey Stoner, their other racers will also be able to get podium finishes and race wins.

Nicky Hayden, on choosing between Megan Fox and Kevin Schwantz…

Megan Fox or those two-stroke 500s from the early-1990s? Life is full of tough choices... :-D

In an interview done by Gaber Kerzisnik for Superbike Plant, 2006 MotoGP world champ Nicky Hayden has spoken of one of the most difficult choices a man can ever make – watching Megan Fox on one TV channel vs watching 500cc motorcycle GP races from the early 1990s on another! ‘Man, this is not fair. This is too tough. Oohhhh man, I don’t know. Definitely I would not miss the race, especially with Schwantz, Rainey and all the old guys, but Megan Fox...,’ says Nicky. ‘Okay, I have the solution. I would bring up my computer, watch the race on TV and Megan Fox on my computer. Even if it was just a picture of her…,’ he adds.

Of course, Nicky will have more than just Ms Fox to contend with later this year. With Rossi, Lorenzo, Stoner, Pedrosa and Spies in the fray, 2010 can’t possibly be a cakewalk for the former MotoGP champ. However, when asked to name his toughest competitor ever, Nicky says it’s Rossi. ‘I have had a lot them, especially during my younger dirttrack days. But if you think of my GP career, then that answer is Valentino Rossi. No doubt. He is the winner of so many races, he has won nine championships, and he is so strong. Much stronger than anybody else...,’ says The Kentucky Kid.

Get Hayden’s full interview on Superbike Planet here

2010 just might be Hayden's toughest year ever...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Casey Stoner: “We’re going out to win the championship this year”

Stoner thinks he can win the MotoGP championship this year. While that may or may not happen, we'll be cheering for The Doctor as usual...  

Casey Stoner seems to be reasonably confident of winning the 2010 MotoGP world championship. ‘I’m feeling better than I have in the last three years. My training levels have increased dramatically and my fitness is a lot higher than ever. We’re really looking forward to this year and are going out to win the championship,’ says Casey, in an interview on MotoGP.com

‘At the last test in Valencia we tried the new engine configuration, and really loved it. We had lots more traction and were able to do more with the bike. We think that’ll help us on the track and make the bike more balanced throughout the season,’ says Stoner.

While Casey is bullish is on his chances of winning the 2010 MotoGP world title, he knows who he must beat in order to be able to do that. ‘Obviously, Valentino’s the one to beat. He’s won the championship the last two years in a row now,’ he says. ‘Sometimes Valentino can be very fast in a weekend and struggle in the race a little bit. Other times you think he’s struggling and in the race he will do very well. Jorge is sometimes a little easier to understand. When things aren’t going well for him throughout a weekend it normally doesn’t improve for the race. He’s often very strong throughout the weekend and that continues into the race. They’re both very different and that’s how you have to approach them,’ adds the Aussie rider.

Well, there’s still about three months left to go before the 2010 season starts. And Stoner or no Stoner, we’ll still be rooting for Valentino ‘The Doctor’ Rossi, so bring it on…!

In conversation with Patrizia Ruiz, the MotoGP Beauty from Spain

Patrizia Ruiz
Patrizia Ruiz works with the Yamaha MotoGP team and adds a large dollop of her stunning beauty to some MotoGP races. We hope to see more of her this year...
Patrizia Ruiz Patrizia Ruiz Patrizia Ruiz

If you’ve been downloading the 2008 and 2009 MotoGP season pics from Faster and Faster, you’re likely to have noticed the very beautiful Patrizia, who’s worked with the Yamaha MotoGP team in both these years.

Born in Barcelona, Spain, Patrizia is not only stunningly fit and good looking, she’s also studied theatre, sings professionally, is a top fashion model and won the 2008 Miss Catalonia contest. And if that isn’t enough already, she even has a degree in aeronautical engineering!

We’ll freely admit we’re big fans of Ms Ruiz and we got in touch with her recently, with a long list of questions. Here are some excerpts from what Patrizia had to say:

On how she’s managed to do so many things in life

I have to admit that when I was younger, I liked too many things and as I did not want to choose between them, I did all of them! I was really busy, always going up and down. My life was quite crazy and I never went to bed before 12 in the night. But now that I’ve already finished my studies at the University, I’m finally focused on modelling and music…

On how she got started with the modelling scene in Spain

When I was 8, I did some catalogues. My cousin was a model and some clients ask her if she knew any kids with whom they could do a few shoots. She spoke to my mum and when she explained things to me, I almost begged on my knees that she let me do this. Later, when I was 14, I started working as a professional model.

On whether she actually likes MotoGP

I love it! I remember when I was a kid I used to watch all the MotoGP races during the weekends, with my Dad at home. We really enjoyed that. And now, every time I work there [with the Yamaha team] my dad records MotoGP programs from Spanish TV, and he’s very proud of me.

On the experience of working with Yamaha

It’s exciting working with Yamaha. They are the best and you can feel it with the people around you. Almost everyone on the circuits is crazy about Yamaha, people stand in queues to get their pictures taken with the Yamaha girls, and they wait hours to see Valentino on the way to the hospitality! And since I have been working with Yamaha for almost six years, I’ve met both Jorge and Valentino – they are both very nice guys.

On how MotoGP fans usually behave

Most of them are very polite and they usually stand in queues to get their pictures taken. Sometimes, however, there are some who are very rude but we ignore them. That’s the best we can do. I believe when people don’t respect others is because they don’t love themselves enough, and they try to act something that they are not.

On whether she loves bikes (and, well, cars...)

I do, but I have to confess that I don’t have a license. I don’t think I can’t choose between cars and motorcycles – I love every single thing that has a motor! I love Harley motorcycles and Audi cars.

On getting that degree in aeronautical engineering

I’m a passionate about space technologies and in a few years I’d like to work for a space agency. But in a few years. Right now, I want to keep studying. This year I wanted to do get a Masters degree but it was full, so I couldn’t do it. I’m waiting for the next semester.

On the things she likes best in Spain

I like this bar at the top of Barcelona, called Mirablau – Barcelona looks amazing from there. I also love the As Catedrais beach at Galicia, which I think is amazing…

Some of Patrizia’s favourites:

Bike: Harley Davidson V-Rod
Car: Audi R8
Food: Sushi
Drink: Orchata (Spanish drink from Valencia)
Music: Norah Jones and Alicia Keys. Also, I love Spanish Flamenco!
Movie: Water, Life is beautiful
Game: Street Fighter
Book: The Shadow of the Wind
Holiday destination: Countries from the centre and the South of Africa

Patrizia Ruiz Patrizia Ruiz Patrizia Ruiz Patrizia Ruiz Patrizia Ruiz Patrizia Ruiz Patrizia Ruiz Patrizia Ruiz Patrizia Ruiz Patrizia Ruiz

Visit Patrizia's website here

Monday, January 11, 2010

Ducati 599 Mono concept from Australia

Ducati conceptDucati concept
Oh yes, the Ducati 599 Mono looks totally cool...

Remember the early-1990s Ducati Supermono? Light, fast, exotic and because it was so expensive, simply inaccessible to most people, the Supermono was powered by a high-tech 549cc engine that made 75bhp. With its 118-kilo kerb weight, the ’Mono still managed to hit a top speed of 225km/h and according to those who’ve ridden one, it handled like a proper racebike.

Now, while Ducati made the last Supermono back in 1996, there still seems to be no dearth of enthusiasts who want a modern-day interpretation of the iconic original. Take 23-year-old Dan, for example, who sent us his artist’s impression of what he calls the Ducati 599 Mono, which is supposed to have a single-cylinder engine rather than the usual Bolognese v-twin.

Based in Sydney, Australia, Dan has a degree in Industrial Design and loves motorcycles. He currently rides a Ducati Pantah 600 which he’s restored himself and which he says is a lovely (if slow!) old bike.

‘I’ve had the idea of a sporting single in my head for a while now, and really wanted a Ducati 450 single when I was younger. Ducati have a really strong tradition of single-cylinder sportsbikes so I decided to capitalise on that heritage using the technology developed in Terblanche’s Supermono project, which never became a road-legal bike, although beautiful road–legal replicas are now being made,’ says Dan. ‘I just really like the idea of a sporting single in terms of a weekend ‘scratcher.’ Realistic power output in a light chassis just sounds so much fun! Clearly it’s something manufacturers are thinking about with the KTM RC4 being recently leaked and many riders are so enthusiastic about the proposal,’ he adds.

‘Ducati, compared to the Japanese Big Four, clearly chase different markets, which is reflected in their design. I’ve always liked the styling of Ducatis – Tamburini’s 916 is a masterpiece – to make something regarded as beautiful by almost the entire motorcycling community is rare,’ said Dan when we asked him about what he thinks of Japanese vs Italian motorcycle design.

‘The styling of the 999 probably pushed a bit too hard and so alienated a lot of riders. I think the 1098 is a reaction to that; it’s certainly a lot more conservative than the 916 and 999 and more ‘Japanese’ in many ways. It’s very inoffensive and has been selling like hot cakes, which is good for the company’s bottom line but perhaps not so good for setting new standards in motorcycle design as did the 916 in 1994,’ concludes Dan.

Well, we certainly like the 599 Mono concept and we hope someday Ducati will revive the old Supermono and actually build something on the lines of Dan’s 599 Mono.

Those who wish to get in touch with Dan can write to him on enquiries@danandersondesign.com

Random Ramblings